Interesting social sciences/Sociometry and small groups

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Jacob L. Moreno


Jacob L. Moreno had invented the sociometry. Sociometry is a method to identify of the composition of the small groups and persons of leaders. There is a legend about History of creation for Sociometry [1], as Jacob L. Moreno was invited in women's penal colony in the town of Hudson near New York. 500 women were contained in women's penal colony. Conditions were excellent: well-planned cottages, production workshops, classrooms, gyms, 24‐hour control over behavior of prisoners in side of tutors. But heads of colony were in tension constantly since prisoners made scenes of disobedience, quarrels with each other and sought to run away from colony to own poor families. Jacob L. Moreno had to understand the reasons of conflict and propose ways to elimination them. Jacob L. Moreno has come to the dining room and Jacob L. Moreno has suggested girls to sit down at tables with the girlfriends. It has turned out that before eight woman have sat at one table instead of four woman. Jacob L. Moreno has conducted a sociometric research and Jacob L. Moreno has found the optimum placement considering whenever possible feelings of preference. After that the satisfaction with living conditions has increased, psychological climate has improved in groups, and tension at educators was reduced. Except Jacob L. Moreno, Elton Mayo and Kurt Lewin are considered as founders of theory of small groups.

Signs of a small group:[edit]

  • Each member of small group has corresponding identification marks (tattoos, a dress code, a hairstyle, jargon). Each member of small group must fulfill certain standards of behavior, correspond to moral standard and play social role in small group. There are such roles in the small group as a leader, defender of the group, which conducts conflicts with members of other groups and so on, for example, rocker must has motorcycle, be dressed to leather jacket and love for music in style Heavy metal. The criminal must have tattoos its corresponding roles, speak to criminal jargon, have criminal profession (thief from pockets, sharper, tradesman stolen goods and so on.).
  • There are various ways, rituals and procedure of accepting of new members. For example, dedication to brotherhood of Satan occurs in an abandoned Church where satanists kill the cat or dog and draw with help of blood on the walls. Newbie is offered to participate in a fight in the teenage gangs, and it becomes for newbie to test for admission in a gang, newbie must show the courage and ability to battle in this fight.[2]
  • Each group has place for collecting and flags. Place for collecting can be a basement, cross-road at traffic lights and so on.
  • Each group has its leader, or even two leaders (idea’s inspirer and most respected man). These roles can be compared with the father and mother roles within the family. Idea’s inspirer indicates for members of group the purpose and means to achieve, idea’s inspirer manages of action of group, idea’s inspirer punishes and excludes members from group. Most respected man provides emotional satisfaction, most respected man creates a microclimate in the group, most respected man inspires at members of group a complex of superiority over other groups, most respected man inspires faith, that members of own group are the best and members of other group are bad men.
  • Each group has own purpose. Examples this purposes are to have a rest together, to earn money, to conquer the power and influence in your district of the city, the upbringing of children, to play sports, arts and so on. The leader chooses means of achievement according to the purposes ‐ to find the money and representatives of the opposite sex for rest together, to find work for brigade, to win fights with other teenage groups in own district of city, to create family, to build house and to earn money that to provide to family conditions for successful upbringing of children.

Neighbour’s community[edit]

Neighbourhood was at all peoples and neighbourhood has helped to survive, comforted in sorrow always. Neighbourhood or “world” had remained for very long in Russia. There was the declining of role of primary groups in the past two hundred years. In my opinion this was because of decrease of the role for moral control in society, but of course, primary group will disappear never in future. Groups xiaozu from 8 to 15 people were formed in Communist China everywhere, this grours held the meetings devoted to mutual criticism and self-criticism regularly, thus, the groups put the strongest pressure upon the members. The authorities used these groups for support of an official course [3]. Large organizations (the army and the church) based on small groups. There is an everyday fight of small groups (bureaucratic cliques) for the power in large organization with help of dismissal and prosecution of members of other bureaucratic cliques.

The teenager’s group[edit]

Life of boys after 12 years occurs in various companies where this boys endure steadily the injustice and even the cruelty in relation to beginners, but this boys don’t complain to parents and adults. Boys learn how to act independently in gangs. Interaction between members of the teenage gangs consist in that boys walk together in the streets, boys are planning together future crimes and boys keep them in secret, boys are obliged to protect each other if boys are attacked from outside, boys must communicate among themselves in a particular manner and boys must communicate in another manner with the enemy. Members of gang put pressure upon the teenagers living nearby that to force them to enter to "gang". The entry in gang is accompanied by rituals inherent from the mafia. Members of gang look to other members interested to leave gang as on traitors. Member gangs wears identification mark ‐ ring in ear, silk scarf around his neck a certain color and so on.

The majority of members of this teenager’s group goes at eighteen-year age into more complex organization – the army, the own family, bureaucracy, private company, the prison. As a Russian pop band “Duna” sing in own song: “Hooligans have grown up and hooligans begun to live with wives”. But some members remain that to become by professional criminal and to reconstruct the teenager’s group to the a criminal gang. In my opinion, the similarities between teenager’s group and criminal gang is in that teenager’s group and criminal gang are built both often on the same sanctions – to corporal punishment. The essence of small group is in that small group is based on moral sanctions and moral control always. Function of small group is in that boy learns here to lead and to communicate. If the boy was “mother’s san” or exemplary pupil and this boy was not by part of the teenager’s group at at teenage age that this boy may be unusable on the role of head in adulthood.

The functions of the small group:[edit]

  • Group conducts socialization.
  • Group helps to perform the work which lonely person cannot perform ‐ to drive into trap a mammoth, to build a house, to work on the сonveyor system, to play football. It is easier to survive in group thanks to the fact that division of labor exists in the group. There are roles of the the observer behind external danger, the head, the defender of group already in pack of monkeys. [4]
  • Expressive function satisfies need of people to social approval, respect and trust, because the people derive pleasure from communication.
  • Group supports and consoles its members in difficult moment [5] ‐ group weakens the sensation of fear, a grief, loneliness, alarm. For example, expectation of capital punishment is worst in solitary cell, where the prisoner is going to crazy gradually, the prisoner catches each rustle, the prisoner climbs to the wall, because the prisoner does not know the time of execution for capital punishment, the prisoner does not know exactly when hangmen will come for it, the prisoner can sit in cell and a few weeks, and a few months, and a few years. According to results of research which Joseph H. Pratt organized, people, sick by tuberculosis, suffer in the general chamber less, where they can provide each other support, just talking about their misfortunes.

The size of small group[edit]

  • If group has two members, then it is very fragile group which can disappear after an exit from group of one of members, but it is possible to reach the deepest emotional satisfaction in such group from communication, members of such group communicate as brothers or as sisters.
  • If group has three members, then rapprochement occurs of two members sooner or later and an exception of the third member by the principle "third wheel".
  • If the Group has five members, then it is considered optimal size of group, which has no problems almost.
  • If group has an even number of members, then the group can break up into fractions with equal number of members during the vote.
  • If group has more than five members, then some members begin to feel himself in isolation. Large groups strengthen pressure upon the members that leads to conformism growth (conformism is readiness to submit to group pressure).

Faction and hostility, strict control instead of a heart-to-heart talk can arise In large group. Members of large group communicate with each other less and members of large group communicate with the leader often. The leader, as a rule, addresses to all group, but not to her certain members. The leader becomes by the center of communication, the leader accepts and transfers information. Humiliated members exist in big group sometimes, the emotional satisfaction from communication decreases sharply therefore the big group is fraught with splits , members of large group begin to seek to leave it. [6]

Experiments for the research of pressure and exclusion from group (research of moral sanctions)[edit]

Pressure contributes to conformism that is consent of members with the purposes of group and with ways of achieving of this purposes. Two of the experiments exists that to research of the pressure and exceptions from the group. Eight people say intentionally that black is white in the first experiment of Solomon Asch and ninth man must express own opinion about a color of object. As a result the third part of men says that black is white, showing a high degree of conformism. Other men (“dissidents”) insist on own opinion persistently and this men say that the black is black. The third part of men behaved uncertainly, these people opened eyes widely from surprise and these people did not know what needs to be spoken. [7]

The exception from the group causes decrease in self-respect. J. Wilcox and J. Mitchell organizes second experiment on the principle of "Sole Survivor" game. J. Wilcox and J. Mitchell suggested that each of six persons to make the choice of candidates whom they have to throw out overboard when all of them appear on the lifeboat in the middle of the ocean, and provisions will be enough only for five people. It is noted that as a result this experiment even size of letters in the signature is reduced. [8]

Сonflict of school’s cliques[edit]

It is possible on the basis of my long-term sociometric researches at school to draw the following conclusions and recommendations which allow to help teacher under establishment of discipline and an order at a lesson.

Clique (from the French, “gang”) is a small group of colleagues, closely united among themselves for the sake of unseemly purposes at any price. This struggle cliques go in any bureaucratic organizations – in the system of executive power, in the army, in Church, in a private company, in the Soviet nomenclature. It is impossible to forbid this fight of cliques because fight of cliques goes underground always. List of members of the small groups are invisible for a beginner within school class or pedagogical collective of school, but this list of members of the small groups has huge importance in school life. Secret squabbles and gossips are capable to make miserable of the life of this beginner. The purpose of fight of cliques is fight for power and influence. Destruction of a lesson, pressure in relation to opponents from other gangs serve as means for achievement of this purpose in school. The successful destruction of lesson shows that the power of the informal leader is more then power of teacher. On the other hand, cliques of teachers conduct among themselves rivalry for the power and key posts in the educational organization. Members of the lost clique of teachers lose at a rate of payment, and then they lose the place of work. Association in cliques allows people to do more successfully own career in the course of vertical mobility therefore the single man isn't capable to make success in administrative career, this problem is especially relevant for such personality type as the theorist. Fight for power is a main purpose of bureaucratic cliques, and the auxiliary purpose of bureaucratic cliques is receiving pleasure from communication and joint rest. The main teaching clique is formed around the director of school. A rivalry exists between teaching cliques for influence on the director sometimes

The sociologist can reveal visually the list of members of teacher's cliques not only by means of a sociometric research, but also indirectly on the frequency of their meetings during breaks between lessons and during evenings of rest. Fight of teaching cliques reaches big heat at school sometimes. This situation is aggravated often because of the absence of men among teachers of school since women are more skillful by own nature under spreading of gossips and under playing scenes of humiliation of the enemy.

It is impossible to achieve excellent knowledge of subject at pupils without good discipline at a lesson. On the other hand, the lack of initiative and passivity of pupils at a lesson demonstrates lack of interest to the studied subject that results to bad knowledge too. Therefore the teacher has to aspire to "golden middle" and maintain optimum level of "noise" during a lesson. Teacher may receive indirectly information about the level of interest to your lection across feedback with pupil in the form of dialogue, in the form a large number of replicas and counter‐questions. Teacher should suppress all attempts of pupil to lead away dialogue to another side from the learning theme, to begin chatting under excuse of questions to the teacher. This behavior of pupil is one of the tricks of the breakdown in this lesson.

A good way to control behavior of pupil is observation for that they write abstract of lectures or not. If the inexperienced teacher sees class in the form of a faceless hostile mass, that intuition of the experienced teacher enables to see persons of leaders and composition of small groups without sociometric researches. Members of one clique of pupils try to sit down at school desks in close proximity from each other and far away from enemies. Therefore the most serious punishment for the leader consists in replacing him far away from own group, for example, to the first school desk or in a camp of his enemies. This method means "to behead" group then group is in a condition of confusion some time. Attempt to punish their leader faces with amicable resistance of own group and with approval of group hostile to them,, because punished leader is their most wicked enemy too. Thus, the teacher has an opportunity to play on contradictions in a class in the course of establishing order.

Size of protest and resistance of small group against teacher depends from the size of this group. If the punished leader continues to aggravate the conflict against the teacher, then it is necessary to cause him on an individual conversation after lessons where the punished leader is deprived of support of own group and the punished leader behaves much more modestly. But after all the best way of maintenance of discipline is an interesting lecture since then the purposes of the teacher and most of cliques coincide completely. It is seldom, but it happens that there is only one large group in a school class headed by very influential leader and several humiliated pupils out of this big group. It becomes very difficult for teacher to punish such leader because the similar attempt turns into war against all school class. Inexperienced teachers try to put unsatisfactory marks to all pupils in a school class for a lesson in that case. This reception is inefficient absolutely.

To give an unsatisfactory mark to all pupils – it means not to give unsatisfactory mark to anybody. It need to sort of pupils, one pupil must receive unsatisfactory mark, another pupil must receive excellent mark. It is necessary to punish in case of a riot only leaders and impudent pupils who enter into the risen group, and it is necessary to make indulgences to members of other groups who didn't participate in a riot. By the way, the leader of the revolting group seeks to hide for backs of obedient performers and to evade responsibility. But this leader can be revealed easily with help of sociometric test. It is necessary to try to agree with the leader of the revolting group after completion of the conflict and indicative sanctions about conditions of truce and even to make with him a compromise. It is necessary to alternate "carrot and stick" in the relations with the leader. Informal leader perceives any award without punishments as weakness of the teacher. The teacher has to respect informal leaders for their influence, informal leaders are key figures in a form often. But it is necessary to remember that empty preventions and threats without indicative sanctions don't act on subordinates. If the teacher threatens much, but doesn't decide to apply real punishments, then the form draws a conclusion that there has come paralysis of will at this teacher.

Leader has sanguine temperament usually. The choleric person isn't capable to become a leader because of excessive conflictness, even with own friends. The phlegmatic person isn't capable to become a leader because of a rigidity. The rigidity is an inability to adapt to new people or to a new situation of the environment. Melancholic person isn't capable to become a leader because of excessive vulnerability and weakness in the conflicts. Just melancholic person is slighted and outcast often. The teacher spends most of all forces for fight against choleric persons which have inclination to be by instigators of all senseless conflicts and quarrels because of the born eccentricity to the peculiar choleric person. Informal leader chooses choleric persons for a role of the performer of destruction of a lesson.

Citations and references.[edit]

  1. Jacob Levy Moreno. Sociometry, Experimental Method and the Science of Society. New York : Beacon House, 1951.
  2. Neil Smelser. Sociology. New-Jersey Prentice Hall 1988. Chapter 5. Social interaction.
  3. Martin King Whyte. Small groups and political rituals in China.
  4. Neil Smelser. Sociology. New-Jersey Prentice Hall 1988. Chapter 5. Social interaction.
  5. Neil Smelser. Sociology. New-Jersey Prentice Hall 1988. Chapter 5. Social interaction.
  6. Neil Smelser. Sociology. New-Jersey Prentice Hall 1988. Chapter 5. Social interaction.
  7. Neil Smelser. Sociology. New-Jersey Prentice Hall 1988. Chapter 5. Social interaction.
  8. Neil Smelser. Sociology. New-Jersey Prentice Hall 1988. Chapter 5. Social interaction.